What is Akkermansia Muciniphila—And How Can It Help Your Gut?
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By The Pendulum Therapeutics Team
Akkermansia (A) muciniphila is a species of human intestinal mucin-degrading bacteria (in this article, we refer to this species simply as Akkermansia). Extensive research is being undertaken to understand this microbial species’ association with several metabolic disorders.
In healthy people, Akkermansia accounts for up to 4% of intestinal bacteria. Studies have shown that humans with a lower abundance of Akkermansia in the gut (compared to the guts of healthy people) tend to have higher body weight, higher body mass index (BMI), higher blood-cholesterol level, and higher fasting blood-glucose level.
That’s a big deal for such a small microbe!
The gut’s mucus layer “keeps a crucial distance between the gut microbes and sensors on immune cells that ring the alarm bells of the immune system…”
The most important link Akkermansia has to our gut health is related to its role in optimizing the composition and function of our gut-mucus layer. This intestinal mucus layer is one major component of the gut barrier (the other component is the tightly linked layer of gut cells) between the microbial universe inside of us—containing both the good and the bad microbes—and the gut-associated immune system, just microns away. It keeps a crucial distance between these microbes and sensors on immune cells that ring the alarm bells of the immune system, whenever microbes get too close to the lining of the gut.
Akkermansia muciniphila is a microbial species that feeds on mucin, a glycoprotein (a combination of a sugar and protein molecule) that regulates the thickness of the mucosal layer lining the intestinal wall. By munching on this mucin layer of the intestinal wall, the microorganism not only influences the thickness of the layer but at the same time produces beneficial short-chain fatty acids which play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem of beneficial bacteria. Restoring Akkermansia—along with other beneficial microbes—-can help your body manage the aforementioned issues.
Akkermansia muciniphila levels in the gut can be increased by two basic strategies:
- Eating plant-based foods which contain a variety of fiber and polyphenol molecules encourage more Akkermansia to grow.
- Taking a probiotic that contains Akkermansia muciniphila.
Diets, such as the Standard American Diet (SAD) with high amounts of saturated fats, sugar, fried foods, and alcohol have all been shown to decrease the amount of Akkermansia in our gut.
Like many gut microbes, Akkermansia basically feeds on fiber derived from a variety of fruits and vegetables (see table 1). So, the more fiber or prebiotics we eat, the more fuel we give our existing Akkermansia to grow.
In addition, a family of large molecules known as polyphenols— which are also an essential component of many fruits and vegetables—also encourage the health of our microbiome (see table 2).
|Inulin (from chicory root)|
“…it is now also possible to increase the gut population of Akkermansia mucinophilia by consuming a probiotic supplement which contains this microbe.”
In addition to eating a diet that promotes the growth of Akkermansia, it is now also possible to increase the gut population of this microbial species by consuming a probiotic supplement that contains this microbe.
One reason Akkermansia is not widely available is the fact that it is a strict anaerobic bacterium, which means it can only live in oxygen-free environments (as they exist in the large intestine), which rules out its survival in most foods.
There is currently only one product that contains live Akkermansia muciniphila microorganisms, and which has been shown in controlled clinical studies to reduce A1C levels in people with type 2 diabetes and decrease blood glucose spikes by up to 32.5%.
While there are over one thousand science publications on Akkermansia, we are still learning about this microorganism and are excited to learn more. Always remember, when we care for our gut microbiome, we care for our health.
Before you consider any of these gut-microbiome dietary solutions, talk to your healthcare provider. The FDA has not approved or evaluated these statements. Pendulum products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.